Demystifying the magic of the right mouse click
EVERY DAY new and innovative technologies are released promising to "enhance the user experience" or something similarly flowery. Those of us who make a living in IT, however, are often amazed that sometimes the simplest tools are never used. A prime example of this is the "right click" in Windows. No, this is not something you dream about doing with Ann Coulter. Rather, it is a pretty useful tool to get information on a files, Web sites, e-mail addresses and more.
The computer mouse was first introduced to the mass market more than 20 years ago as part of Apple's line of products, including the II series and, of course, the Macintosh. For years after this debut, the mouse had only one button. This made its use quite simple. Click, double click, or "click and drag" were about the only things a user could do.
Two button mouses became popular with the advent of Microsoft's Windows operating system.
In the early days, the left button on these devices pretty much emulated the functions of the single button. The right button was about as useless as lipstick on a pig.
As Windows matured, however, the functions of the right mouse button became more and more useful. Today, it's one of the easier ways to obtain information about any number of things that are very helpful in protecting against the evils of the Internet, or just to be snoopy.
For example, one of the more common ways in which scams are carried out is via e-mail. The sender will mask his actual e-mail address with an alias like "Administrator" or "Support." This fools the reader into thinking that it is a legitimate message. By simply putting your cursor over the sender's name, and clicking the right mouse button, other information can be obtained, most importantly, the real e-mail address of the sender. Keep in mind that more advanced scammers can even fool the right-click, but at least this is a good start.
Another common way in which to scam users is to direct you to an official looking Web page, with instructions to click links on that page. When you click the link, however, spyware, viruses, or other bad things are downloaded to your PC.
But if you right-click the link and select "Properties" off the resultant menu, you can determine what site it's actually sending you to.
Finally, the right click also can be used to find out more information about files such as word-processing documents or spreadsheets. By right-clicking such a document you can glean such information as when it was created, and who actually created it.
John Agsalud is president of ISDI Technologies Inc., a Honolulu-based IT consultancy. Call him at 944-8742 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.